An energetic urban-fantasy sequel that skillfully expands the saga’s worldbuilding and cast.

KNIGHT OF FLAMES

From the Inheritance series , Vol. 2

Two lovers with supernatural powers meet others with similar abilities in this sequel. 

British Earl Quentin d’Arcy, who’s convinced his father killed his mother six years ago, fled his home country. The 25-year-old has kept a low profile in San Diego, California, which has recently proved rewarding. He’s now dating and in love with Laurence Riley, who lives and works at a flower shop with his mother, Myriam. Laurence, the more sexually experienced of the two, is taking things slowly. Physical intensity tends to spike Quentin’s anxiety, which causes him to lose control of his telekinesis and potentially put Laurence in danger. Laurence has talents as well, including precognition, but Quentin soon realizes they aren’t the only people with superpowers. He catches the attention of Kane Wilson, who wants to know why his mind control doesn’t work on Quentin. Wilson has been “liberating” teens with special abilities and helping them learn to control them. Quentin’s association with Wilson’s group leads to his discovery of another power: creating fire. This unfortunately ties to Laurence’s cryptic vision of the future—Quentin in his arms and both men seemingly on the verge of a fiery demise. Laurence and Quentin begin to suspect Wilson isn’t so much charitably aiding youngsters as he is amassing a team of superpowered fighters. Quentin then takes a risk by accepting Wilson’s offer to join them, with the hope of staying close and uncovering what the man is truly planning. In Book 2 of this lively urban-fantasy series, Faulkner (Jack of Thorns, 2019) immediately depicts Laurence and Quentin basking in an already established romance. This sets a consistent pace from the beginning, which the author maintains by providing expository bits to catch up new readers. The couple’s relationship shows signs of evolving, as they continue to learn about each other’s families and personal histories and occasionally suffer pangs of jealousy. Though their intimate scenes of exclusively kissing may seem straight out of a YA novel, they progressively turn steamier: Quentin “pressed himself against Laurence’s body, stifling his panic against the other man’s flesh, biting down on his shoulder to keep himself from tipping over the edge.” These scenes deftly showcase two men who are savoring their romance. But Myriam, who shined brightly in the series opener, has disappointingly few appearances. Picking up the slack is Quentin’s twin, Freddy, who manages to find his brother in San Diego. Freddy is both smart and helpful as well as a standout character thanks to his affectionate nickname for Quentin: Icky (an abbreviation of his middle name, Ichabod). The supernatural element, as in the preceding book, never completely monopolizes the narrative. Nevertheless, there are plenty of new, intriguing characters in Wilson’s group, who sport varying powers, from electrokinesis to an uncanny stealth capability. Laurence and Quentin, meanwhile, hone their formidable skills, including the former’s attempt to induce a vision that reveals a past, rather than a future, event. The effective final act boasts action, characters in peril, and a denouement that, not surprisingly, teases the next volume.

An energetic urban-fantasy sequel that skillfully expands the saga’s worldbuilding and cast.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912349-12-8

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Ravenswood Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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